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China detains protesters in advance of parliament session

[JURIST] Chinese police have detained protesters [HRIC press release] in preparation for the annual ceremonial start of session of the National People's Congress [government backgrounder] in Beijing and forced them to return to their homes, human rights groups said Friday. Protesters traveled from across the country to air grievances ranging from insufficient health care and redevelopment seizure to strict birth control laws and missing unemployment benefits. Many were detained and sent back to their homes by police forces that the government deployed to suppress the protests. The New York-based watchdog Human Rights in China (HRIC) [advocacy website] also accused the government of trying to hide a hunger strike organized to protest reprisal against political activists.

Each year, thousands of people participate in the centuries-old tradition of traveling to Beijing during the legislative session to report complaints to the government. Some protesters, including AIDS patients and victims of property seizure, were warned before the parliamentary session that they would be detained and sent home. The NPC's 2006 annual session [official website] will open Sunday. AP has more.

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